Kitty and the Midnight Hour (Kitty, book 1), by Carrie Vaughn

Carrie Vaughn is not a golfer; she’s a writer. Having been an Air Force brat, this web she had a bit of a peripatetic childhood. She went to college at the same place as Ben Affleck — at the same time, even! — but she never met him, much to her dismay. A master’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and the usual rack of writer day jobs came later; she has currently published four novels (two coming out next year) and a large amount of short stories, several of which are even about the same character in this novel. Her name came up on one of those, “If you like . . .” lists, so I looked for her first book, and eventually found it.

Kitty Norville is a late-night DJ who takes requests, and one night, instead of requests, she finds herself accidentally starting a talk show about creatures of the night: vampires, werewolves, and the like. Of course, Kitty herself is a werewolf: the absolute lowest in the pack. Anyway, the show takes off; it gets syndicated very quickly. Unfortunately, that causes some problems in her werewolf pack, as well with the local vampire Family. On top of that, some of her callers are getting really, really strange. Should she stop doing the show the way her alpha wants her to?

This is a bit of a different werewolf book. For one thing, I think it actually approximates a real wolf pack a bit better than other wolf packs I’ve seen. Second, it’s different to see a main character — a supposedly kickass female, since this is urban fantasy — who, well, isn’t. When I say Kitty’s the bottom of the pack, I mean it. She craves the comfort and safety of the pack, and has spent a very long time being as submissive as possible, in order to keep that comfort and security. Of course, it’s . . . not really a very healthy pack. Again, though, it’s generally expected that all werewolf packs are stronger and better than humans, so it’s interesting to see this other side of a pack.

It’s implied that Kitty had an abusive childhood, even before her attack (the one that caused her to become a werewolf), and she certainly reacts to the abusive behavior exhibited by various pack members with an abuse survivor’s mentality. That having been said, though, she’s not really a doormat. She goes to a self-defense class. She definitely talks a good game on her show, and she rarely lets people boss her around. It’s obvious that, through the course of this book, she starts breaking out a little bit. I think she’d be a truly insufferable character if she stayed completely an omega wolf, and I’m glad that Ms. Vaughn chose this portion of Kitty’s story to tell.

It’s a bloody and violent book. There’s a subplot involving a serial killer, and Kitty has to go see one of his kills. There’s also a euphemistically-described rape scene; I’m a little less annoyed about this one than normal (although I still feel I should warn readers that it’s there), because it was late in the book, organic to the plot, not described very well, and treated like the horror that it is, rather than cavalierly. I still feel like I’m going to read the next book, even though Kitty’s world was a little bleak in this volume. I felt that Ms. Vaughan had written a story that I actually wanted to continue reading. It was recommended to me as a fan of Kelley Armstrong and Kim Harrison; fans of those those might read this, although the story’s definitely darker. 3.5/5 stars.

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